Welcome to SkyEye, your guide to this month's celestial events.
|8||Sat||First Quarter Moon|
|11||Tue||Moon at apogee|
|14||Fri||Mercury at greatest elongation west|
|20||Thu||163 Erigone occults first magnitude star Regulus: visible from eastern Canada and northeastern United States, and beginning around 05:50 UT.|
|Earth at equinox: the word equinox means 'equal night' so that on this day, the (centre of the) Sun spends an equal amount of time above and below the horizon everywhere on the planet.|
|21||Fri||Moon occults Saturn: visible from parts of South America, the mid-Atlantic Ocean and southern Africa, and beginning around 01:00 UT.|
|22||Sat||Venus at greatest elongation west|
|24||Mon||Last Quarter Moon|
|27||Thu||Moon at perigee|
|30||Sun||The second Full Moon in a calendar month is popularly known as a 'Blue Moon', but what do you call the second New Moon in a calendar month?|
The word planet is derived from the Greek word for 'wanderer'. Unlike the background stars, planets seem to move around the sky, keeping mostly to a narrow track called the ecliptic, the path of the Sun across the stars. Dwarf planets and small solar-system bodies, including comets, are not so constrained, often moving far above or below the ecliptic.
The solar south pole is most inclined toward the Earth early this month.
The smallest planet in the solar system reaches greatest elongation west on 14 March. A morning sky object, Mercury is best seen from southern latitudes, rising high into the morning twilight ahead of the Sun. For northern hemisphere observers, it remains stubbornly close to the horizon throughout the month.
The morning star reaches greatest elongation west on 22 March. Those viewing this bright planet from southern latitudes will see it climb very high in the east but it remains nearly stationary in altitude for northern hemisphere observers.
The red planet rises earlier in the evening and is well-placed for viewing as it heads towards opposition next month.
163 Erigone Leo
On 20 March, beginning around 05:50 UT, the asteroid 163 Erigone will occult the first magnitude star Regulus. This naked eye event will be visible from a narrow path across Nunavut, Ontario and Quebec in Canada, and New York, New Jersey and Connecticut in the United States. 163 Erigone is found in the main asteroid belt. Discovered in 1876, it has a diameter of about 73 kilometres and a semi-major axis of 2.367 AU. It takes 3.64 years to circle the Sun.
The largest planet in the solar system still rules the skies this month but is setting ever earlier. Look for it in the southwest and west.
Saturn rises about two hours after Mars and is getting easier to observe as the month progresses.
This ice giant is getting increasingly difficult to see in the evening twilight as it approaches conjunction with the Sun next month.
A small telescope is necessary to view the most distant planet in the solar system but potential observers won't get much joy this month. Neptune was at solar conjunction in February and is lost in the morning twilight.